It is common for horse owners to feel that their horses are underperforming, not eating properly, or just don't seem right. Equine Gastric Ulcer Syndrome (EGUS) is a condition characterized by gastric ulcers.

It can be unsettling to learn that your horse has stomach ulcers. 

As owners it's our responsibility to  have an understanding of  how to treat horse ulcers. 

Let's explore the treatment!

But, what causes ulcers in horses?

Horses that regularly engage in vigorous activity have a substantially higher incidence of developing gastric ulcers. As a result, exercise decreases blood supply to the gastrointestinal system and stimulates the production of stomach acid. Furthermore, as you exercise, corrosive digestive acids splash onto the delicate upper stomach lining.

A stressful lifestyle, such as prolonged stall rest or frequent transit, are variables that raise the risk of ulcers in horses. NSaids, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, when taken long-term, can also thin the protective mucus that borders the stomach, increasing the risk of ulcers.

Your vet knows best when it comes to diagnosing ulcers.

Symptoms indicating ulcers

Stomach ulcers can cause horses to exhibit pain and discomfort symptoms such as:

  • Colic: Colic is the term used to describe the abdominal pain of a horse. Loss of appetite, bloated stomachs, pawing and rolling, sweating, and overall signs of distress are some of the symptoms of colic.
  • Sour attitude: Being sociable creatures, horses prefer to hang out with their fellow herd members. They feel most at ease when there are other horses around and in their line of sight. Horses become “sour” when separated from their herd or preferred partner, travel buddy.
  • Diarrhea: Diarrhea is a serious ailment brought on by bacteria, viruses, parasites, changes in food, inflammation of the intestines, or inappropriate pharmaceutical usage. Diarrhea in horses usually passes fast and is not a reason for concern if your horse doesn't exhibit any severe symptoms. However, if the horse stops eating and the diarrhea lasts for more than a day or two, there may be a major problem.
  • Changes in eating and drinking patterns: Horses love to graze and take frequent, small meals. When provided access to hay or pasture, the majority of horses will graze for 12 to 15 hours each day. This intake rate, however, may be affected by environmental variables, restricted turnout, feed quality, and the horse's general preferences. One of the first signs when a horse is feeling unwell is a change in appetite.
    The average horse consumes 5 to 10 gallons (23-46 litres)  of water each day. Exercise, diet, physiological status (such as pregnancy), and environmental factors, such as temperature, can all have an impact on this quantity. It's critical to keep an eye on your water consumption and take note of any changes.
  • Gaining or losing weight: It is crucial to include body weight measurement and body condition score assessment in your equine health care and management. Knowing your horse's BW and BCS can help you make informed decisions about feeding as well as treatment doses for drugs like dewormers. Horses with illnesses may lose body condition or weight gradually or suddenly.
  • Gnashing of teeth: Horses with dental issues frequently go undetected. The best course of action is to have your horse's teeth floated at least once a year by a veterinary dentistry professional to get rid of any sharp enamel spikes. When their teeth hurt, horses frequently stop eating. Vitamin deficiencies and weight loss is a result of bad teeth. Sometimes the solution is as simple as getting their teeth floated.
  • Altered stance and behavior: If there is adequate pasture, horses will graze for 12 to 15 hours per day. Most of the time, they are upright, however they will lay down to relax, sleep, and enjoy the sun. Normally, horses stand with their weight equally distributed and all four feet planted firmly on the ground. When resting, they may vary their position, having one foot pushed up on the toe for relaxation. Any variations from these usual bodily alignments might indicate pain or disease.


The best horse gastric ulcer medication

Combining suitable ulcer medication for horses with lifestyle control is the key to successful therapy for stomach ulcers. Stress reduction, low-starch, high-fiber diet implementation, and gastric splash prevention are all part of lifestyle treatment.

The best equine gastric ulcer treatment consists of omeprazole, sucralfate, and a probiotic. 

  • Omeprazole

The current gold standard for treating stomach ulcers in horses is omeprazole. It functions by preventing proton pumps (which produce stomach acid). while still enabling a horse to go about its normal life while receiving therapy.

The omeprazole is administered to the horse orally for at least one month before re-evaluating the severity of the gastric ulcers. Gastric  ulcers of the upper stomach can be effectively treated with omeprazole.

Gastric ulcers of the lower stomach require a six week treatment of omeprazole and sucralfate.

  • Sucralfate

Sucralfate is a sucrose octasulfate hydroxy aluminum salt that functions by attaching to the mucosal lining of the colon and stomach. 

To stop new ulcers from forming, and allow existing ulcers to heal, sucralfate alters the environment in the stomach and small intestine. Sucralfate is useful in the treatment of stomach ulcers because it creates a barrier over the ulcer's site.  

NOTE - Omeprazole and sucralfate cannot be administered at the same time .

  • Probiotics

Supplemental probiotics aid in restoring a balanced bacterial environment in the horse's colon and stomach. In the equine community, probiotics for horses are now considered an essential supplement for good digestion.

How are horse ulcers treated?

Horse ulcers require both medical therapy and a revamp of the horse's lifestyle and management. 

This is because the way we care for and raise domestic horses has led to a problem with ulcers in horses. While medicine will definitely help, a horse's lifestyle must also be modified.

The best thing you can do for your horse if they are repeatedly stressed out from training, traveling, and competing, is to reduce their stress levels and give them sucralfate as an ulcer preventative (when needed).

The best place to start is with free grazing. Horses must, however, always have access to fodder if that is not possible for any reason (hay, silage, or haylage). In addition, grain-heavy meals shouldn't be given to them.

Additionally, you can make minor changes to your training programme to reduce the likelihood of gastric splashing, which is one of the major factors contributing to equine stomach ulcers. A horse with ulcers requires constant access to the right kinds of food and a low-stress way of life. Ulcers are far more common in horses that are kept in stalls for extended periods of time and are only given tiny amounts of concentrated diets.

Where to buy gastric ulcer medication for horses?

Abler offers horse owners the necessary gastric ulcer treatment medication without a script.